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Archive for June, 2011

So these brownies were a baking experiment for an upcoming themed party I am throwing. Overall, they got mixed reviews from the friends and family. They do pack a bit of a kick, with cayenne pepper, chili powder, and cinnamon in the batter.

Ben and I agreed that the taste is certainly not unpleasant but would keep you from eating a whole pan. Which is completely possible when it comes to brownies. It is called brownie madness and sometimes you cannot fight it.

I followed this recipe. Even with the interesting spices, I thought this base recipe was solid – great texture and chocolate taste. It might be my new go-to brownie recipe. Apparently there are varying schools of brownie-thought regarding whether cocoa powder alone will make a good brownie or if melted baker’s chocolate is needed. This recipe uses cocoa powder. I have done the melted chocolate before (namely the ‘Baked’ version), but after this recipe I may not go back.

Any other tasty variations of brownies out there I need to try?

The Brown Eyed Baker, another Pittsburgh based blogger, recently posted a ‘Top Ten’ brownie list. Check it out here. Considering my boyfriend is kind of a brownie-monster, I may try and slowly make my way through that whole list. Delicious.

Edit: I made these again with half the cayenne and chili powder and the same amount of cinnamon. Perfect! I would suggest you make these modifications too unless you want them hot, hot, hot!

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I love seeking out new places to eat in Pittsburgh. There is so much happening in this fair city! My main sources for finding the newest spots are the Post Gazette, other blogs (I have added a blog-roll, check it out!), Urbanspoon, and word of mouth. Sometimes my ‘to try’ list grows and grows while I frequent some of the same places over and over. Other times, I find my groove, hitting up fresh and exciting places one after the other.

Somehow, over the course of the last few weeks, I have made it to multiple new-to-me restaurants. Read on to find out about my visits to Burgatory and Kanok.

Burgatory – Waterworks, Aspinwall

I visited Burgatory on a Friday night after a loooong work week. Burgatory is one of the main contenders in the burger-war that seems to be brewing in Pittsburgh (see also my visit to BRGR). It is a pub/lounge style place serving some serious meat.

On the night I visited, the wait was a manageable half hour or so and I spent the time running errands within Waterworks (Burgatory has a text message waiting system – very convenient!). Burgatory is definitely cool and styled but comfortable. They have a pretty straightforward menu with some great sounding options. I went with the ‘Phat Patti’s Veggie’ burger and my date went with the ‘Buffaloed Bison’ burger.

In the end, I was slightly underwhelmed with my veggie burger. It was clearly homemade and while that is a definite plus, the texture was a little too soft for me.  I would try a different burger if I went again. My date appeared pretty enamored with his burger though and happily demolished it. At one point I remember scanning the room and seeing a petite 20-something girl literally licking burger juices off her forearm as she crushed a huge burger. Nice. I like a place that can bring that out in someone.

We ended up getting a ‘Campfire S’mores’ milkshake to go. I was entrusted to hold the milkshake for the drive home and was given the evil eye when I took any type of prolonged sip. My date declared it delicious and I would have to agree – great texture from graham cracker crumbs and a perfect creamy consistency. I would love to go back and try a spiked shake.

Overall, solid effort by Burgatory and I would return.

Kanok – South Highland, Shadyside

Kanok is a new Thai restaurant that has replaced the old Typhoon on S Highland Ave. The interior of the restaurant has remained pretty much unchanged but the menu is new and the price point is lower. Kanok is also BYOB.

I visited Kanok on a Monday night and the place was about one third or so full. It kind of felt like they did not have the AC on, which was interesting. My internal temp seemed to adjust though, especially when I cracked open the chilled white wine I had brought along. The interior of this place is actually very nice, with big windows looking out on S Highland. While waiting for my date, I entertained myself by watching the meter maids ticket all the poor people that don’t know the parking meters go until 10PM in parts of the city now. Lovely.

We ended up with a sweet potato square appetizer and entrees of tofu pad thai and tofu kee-mao. The food was all around satisfactory and nicely presented and plated. The pad thai definitely was not the same as Typhoon’s – less veggies, and the tofu seemed a little over-fried. However, I still cleaned my plate and appreciated the nice atmosphere, BYO, and reasonable prices.

I am not sure I would make a special trip here but if you live in the neighborhood, it is a nice little BYO spot you could drop into without reservations for a quick weekenight meal or last minute Friday night out. I like that.

I will be back for shortly with information on visits to two other new places as well – Chica Loca Taco in Shadyside and Tin Front Cafe in Homestead!

Burgatory Bar on Urbanspoon

Kanok Thai Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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Father’s Day

In order to celebrate this fantastic guy:

I made this tasty pie:

That would be a key lime pie made from fresh hand squeezed key limes, thank yoouuuu. (Whole Foods seems to be a reliable source for key limes). Other than the squeezing, this pie is super easy, especially when you use a store-bought crust and Cool Whip.

You can find the recipe here. Bright, light, tart and creamy.

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Randomness

So these dudes seriously brought it last night.

I rocked out yesterday to NKOTBSB with my mom, aunts, and cousins at Consol Energy Center. I did the appropriate pre-work Tuesday night and brushed up on my dance moves/lyrics via NK and BSB videos on Youtube. This subsequently made me miss my TRL watchin’ days and I ended up building myself a nice little pop-based 90s/early 2000s Pandora station to listen to at work.

Ooo baby.  They really did rock though. Awesome show.

In other news, apparently Snickie’s taco related pleas have been answered (see the taco pic in this post) and two new spots have popped up in the ‘burgh.

Chica Loca Taco (Shadyside)

and

Smoke (Homestead)

My parents were actually the ones that heard about and visited Smoke and they enthusiastically recommended I make a visit. It hasn’t happened yet but hopefully soon. Also, Chica Loca Taco is right in my hood so I need to try that one too!

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Green

mcconnell's mill state park

Recently, I have found my eyes more open to nature. This may be career related, age related, relationship related, season related – I am not entirely sure.

But here I am. Seeing green. And birds. And flora.

And I am enjoying it.

Things I would like to do this summer:

-Hike 10 miles

-Go on a 10+ mile bike ride

-Go to Bach, Beethoven, and Brunch at Mellon Park

-Go Hashing

Kayak during a Pirate SklyBlast

-Go camping

What do you want to do this summer?

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Snickie Goes West III

I miss California. I miss the easy pace of my trip and the excitement of meeting new people and seeing new things. 

After my few days in Chico, we made our way to Sacramento. Ben’s sister, brother in law, and nieces live outside of Sacramento. We made a quick stop in downtown Sacramento, visiting the area of town known as Old Sacramento.

Over and over, during my trip West, I was reminded of the differences in architecture between the East Coast and the West Coast and how “young” the West Coast really is. It is always interesting to me, how your mind can instantly recognize you are in new terrain when traveling. You may not even be able to articulate what feels different (is it the architecture, the topography, the people?) but you know its there.

Old Sacramento

The suburbs of Sacramento also treated us well.  More welcoming family, more great meals, more amazing weather.

We went to an outdoor wine and art festival and somehow I was the only one tasting the wine. About 10 tastes in, I realized I may have just consumed about two glasses of wine in 30 minutes (and at 11AM) and needed a sandwich. Here I am waiting for my sandwich. Don’t I look happy?

After my time wrapped in Sacramento, I sent Ben back to the ‘burgh and continued my journey south, to San Diego. Remember the friend I shared this meal with? I was headed to visit his friendly face at UCSD, where he is pursuing a doctorate.

cruising the SD harbor - and yes, it was cold!

San Diego started off cold and wet. WTF? I wasn’t expecting weather like that, but we made the best of it and toured La Jolla, drank margaritas, and (when the sun finally came out) made it to the beach.

la jolla

made with mezcal (smoky tequila) - a new love

la playa

 I also made my way onto the UCSD campus, spending a whole day there on my own, exploring and pretending I was an undergrad. It was kind of glorious.

sun god sculpture - UCSD campus

Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone that welcomed me into your home over the course of this trip. This vacation was just what I needed after a long busy season at work. Just perfect.

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